40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2011
Sound is subjective, so you may disagree BUT.... This is the best sounding mic I have used that costs under $100. It's got an incredibly natural, vintage sound that does wonders for my terrible singing voice and acoustic guitars. I have mics 10x as expensive as this one, yet I still find myself reaching for it quite often.
I am not confident in the build quality. So I'm particularly careful with these mics (I own two). Knowing they are ribbons and rather cheap is somewhat unnerving. Knowing I can replace one for $88 is a plus though. It's because of the quality that I gave the mic 4 stars, not 5.
One other downside to this mic (and most ribbons) is you need lots of gain to get it up to the level that most mics operate at. While my SM57 is at 3-4 gain-wise, the R144 is up around 9. Also, do yourself a big favor and get a pop filter with it.
This is not an AKG, Neumann, Rode, insert brand name here, so if you don't expect it to be you won't be disappointed. MXL makes some very charming mics for not a lot of money. Just don't expect Rolls Royce performance when you paid for a Kia!
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
I received the R144 as a gift, although it was on my wish list so I did want it. I have been slowly acquiring gear for my modest home "studio" plus gradually learning to be a "recording engineer". I'm not a complete newbie at this but also not an expert. However, I have been able to record songs with good quality so I've apparently learned some things along the way.
Prior to receiving the R144 I owned/used these microphones, choosing one or the other based on need or simply experimentation: Shure SM57, Shure SM58, MXL 603, AT3035. I had never used a ribbon mic but became aware of them through various Internet forums and musical web stores. The R144 receives generally good reviews and the price is low enough, so it went onto my "things to get" list.
I was concerned that the R144 would require a pre-amp with good gain, which I read is typical for ribbon mics. I hoped my ART TubePAC would suffice. In fact, the TubePAC provided plenty of gain for the R144 so I thought I'd try plugging the mic directly into my Soundcraft Notepad mixer (which I use prior to my M-Audio Delta 44 interface). The R144 worked fine with the mixer, providing sufficient mic volume, so now I don't bother using the TubePAC.
My first recording with the R144 was basic acoustic guitar, then vocal. Upon playback I thought "this isn't good, sounds dense and muddy". Then I adjusted EQ but increasing treble just a bit and the recordings came to life. The sound was now warm and clear. Very nice.
I have not noticed any noise from the R144, although it is sensitive and seems to pick up every little sound happening within 1/4 mile radius. That is somewhat of an exaggeration but it really is sensitive, although the same is true for my condenser mics. Luckily I live in the country where it is fairly quiet, although it's best to record when no other family members are home (and take the phone off the hook!). While my condenser mics are sensitive to 'plosives so I use a pop filter, the R144 seems somewhat more sensitive, especially to words beginning with P. I use the pop filter on the R144, which is mandatory for not only sound quality but to help protect the ribbon, but I also must place myself 6-12" inches further from the pop filter than I do when using the condenser mics. Otherwise the 'plosives can sometimes get through. Maybe my pop filter is low grade!
Although I've owned the R144 only six weeks I've used it several times, primarily for vocals but sometimes also for acoustic guitar. It is not better than my AT3035, which was my primary mic, but it does provide a different sound that is perfect for certain songs. While I feel the AT3035 is less warm than the R144, it is clearer and brighter so it also has its place. I did record upright bass with the R144 but I'm not as pleased with that, although in fairness I haven't spent much time to verify that acoustic bass is suitable to the R144. But mid to higher range instruments/voices work very nicely with the R144 after minor EQ tweaking. All told, I am satisfied having the R144 in my microphone selection as it provides for increased variety for me.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2014
I am giving this a five star because it is exactly what it claims to be, an inexpensive ribbon mic with a very respectable sound.
I would like to bring up something that has not really been discussed. I would like to discuss why it can be better to use a strongly affected mic like the R-144 than to simply EQ a more general purpose mic.
This is not a general purpose mic and you would not want to use it for everything. In spite of what a few reviewers have suggested, this mic has limited applications. It is a very warm dark mic. If you get too close, it is downright boomy. This boomy quality comes from an exhageratted proximity effect, which is common to all ribbon mics. So why would you want a mic like this. The answer is simple.
Many times you are recording something with a strident high ends, brass instruments are common examples. In order to make it sound right you turn down the treble and boost the bass. Instead of using an EQ to fix things, try switching to the MXL 144 or some comparable ribbon mic. In many cases you will like the ribbon better. Now I know that you must be saying to yourself. "Why should I bother when all I need to do is EQ the channel and everything is OK?
If you use the EQ to try and fix things, you are not really solving the problem. The element is still tracking those highs and the internal amp is still sending the signals down the cable. Turning down the treble may make the strident quality less obtrusive, but you still have a crappy high end. But when the microphone is not tracking this high end, then it simply is not there.
Now the physics and psychoacoustics are extremely complicated. I do not claim that this will be the only reason why a ribbon mic such as the MXL R-144 will outperform other mics in certain situations. But this is a mental rule of thumb that can help you decide when to go for this mic vs. another mic.
All things considered I am surprised at how many times I go to this mic and how nice it sounds.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2011
This mic sounds silky smooth with vocals and acoustic guitar. I have a fairly large assortment of microphones for my home studio. Several large condenser, 2 small condensers and the usual suspects including Shure SM 57's and SM 58's. For the money this mic can't be beat. Unless you plan to spend upwards of a $1,000, this is 1 fine ribbon mic.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2013
I can't comment on how this works for other than voice overs, but for that it is really a great mic. It is very warm. So warm that things like applying low contour are definitely going over board. I get comments from time to time that my bottom end seems over boosted. My EQ is flat and I am doing nothing else - it is this mic. If you are trying for a mellow sound, you can't do much better than this. Is is a little low in gain, but I have no issue with it. I have had mine over three years now so I don't consider it fragile at all. I don't travel with it, but it is out in my studio 24/7 and does get knocked around a little from time to time. Until I can afford another digit in the pricing, this is my mic of choice.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2014
I am a professional singer and have sung into U87's, 414's and other great mics literally hundreds of times. I have a Rode NT1A for my home studio. Large-diaphragm condensers are the gold standard, I know, but I like the sound of my voice so much better through this little R144! It has a warmth and a natural sound I have never gotten with LDC's. With a bit of high-end boost, some low-freq cut, and light compression, it sits perfectly in a mix. When I first recorded with it, I thought it was dark-sounding. But after some minimal EQ'ing, I found it kept the warmth and got shinier on top, but never harsh. I don't see how anyone could say this mic is harsh.
I had a friend tell me three years ago that once I sang through a ribbon, I'd never want to sing through anything else again - he was absolutely right. I ran it through a Focusrite Saffire 2i2, gain at 3 o'clock (dead quiet), into Reason 7, 6-8" away with a pop screen 1" from the ribbon. Some people say ribbons are super-sensitive to plosive sounds, but this guy never popped once through seven songs.
Find the R144 review in Sound on Sound done by Paul White where he states that it compares favorably to a Coles 4038 ($1500+) simply by employing the same EQ touches. You get this for $100. Amazing.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2013
I recently picked up one of these. There has been a recent change in the model, BTW, the transformer is different and mounted in a different way than it's previous version. If you open it up you will see what I mean. There are no Lundahl tranny versions available for this mic any longer, at least not a drop in one. The good news is the new stock transformer sounds really good.
As to the quality of the mic, I have to give it a 9 out of 10 overall. And I will also tell you that I purchased two of them to find an example I was happy with (I returned the other one). Both examples sounded good, actually, but the one I chose had a bit more clarity, a bit more top end. And be advised, the only difference between the two mics visually was the ribbons themselves and the ribbon support. Sure, it is reported by people like Michael Joly and other ribbon knowledgable people that the ribbon needs to be centered in the magnetic field and that it should not sag. Well, OK, I have also never see a written explanation as to what happens to the audio if the ribbon is sagging - only that it should not sag if you want good performance. ...So, to state the unstated, a tight ribbon delivers more top end. (I should also tell you that the mic I chose, even though it's ribbon element looked and behaved excellently, it's support structure was bent about 5-7 degrees forward towards the positive side of the mic. It was easily straightened to vertical, but do be careful if you run into this and elect to straighten it.)
Also, for those into it, there are actually three wind screens protecting the element. The large meshed outside cage I left, obviously, but the inside smaller metal mesh screen/cage that is soldered to it, I removed. This is a difficult task in a way but it can be done if you take your time. The third screen is a tighter mesh still, but cloth mesh that is attached directly to the element structure (on both sides) and I left this. Bear in mind, I always use a quality pop filter when I use my ribbons, so although I removed a screen, I still protect the ribbon from air blasts with the pop filter. (The inside cage that I removed is very typically redundant and messes with the true sound wave, but YMMV.)
Also of note, I use a 'pre' preamp, between the mic and my preamp of choice, a small device made by Tritonaudio. It's a $99 item that I wouldn't be without while using the MXL R144 or any ribbon mic. I think this is a great example of a medium length ribbon mic.
To conclude, it did require a bit of tuning up, but the results are far beyond the $80 investment. This mic is a total bargain and I am over the top about this purchase.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2014
This Mic has enhanced my WebTV show by 100 fold. Incredible sound for such a bargain price. And not only does it sound good, but it looks good too. The mic has actually increased my presence on air....... Buying 2 more for guest mics.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2014
My voice normally doesn't resonate like I want, when recording. But a ribbon mic made all the difference in the world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
MXL R144 ribbon microphone has a low gain, The pickup however is very natural, has no hiss or distortion, I do recommend a good pre amp. The construction seems to be solid with good weight. Good for vocal for duets because of the figure 8 pickup. also use with a good pop filter. And if you remove the inner mesh filter, the gain increase and it clarity will improve. great mic for the price, worth a lot more than $80.00. You don't need to spend a $1000 for a great microphone when you know what to look for. note: do not remove the cloth filter around the ribbons and avoid touching them, you can easily distort and damage them.